Santoku Knife: The universal weapon of Japanese cuisine
The classic Japanese chef’s knife has long been known among professional chefs for its exceptional quality, but even demanding hobby chefs are increasingly learning to appreciate the uncompromising quality from the land of the rising sun. A classic among Japanese knives is the Santoku, a large, handy chef’s knife that can be used universally in any kitchen. You can get all the knowledge about everything you need to know about Santoku Knife
Describe the Santoku knife.
The name Santoku means “three virtues” (San = three, Toku = virtue). Practically, this refers to the classic Japanese virtues of wisdom, kindness, and courage, but the reference to the knife can also mean that it applies equally to the cutting of meat, fish, and vegetables.
Santoku knives have a typical shape with a high blade and a mostly straight back. The blade is almost the same width over its entire length and hits the back of the blade only a few centimeters before the tip. The handle is almost at the same height as the ridge and forms a continuous line with the ridge.
The cutting edge is only slightly rounded. This gives Santoku a squat shape. Santoku knives lack the hold, the thickening at the end of the blade on the handle side so that the blade cuts to full length. Standard lengths are 17-18 cm, but Santokus are also available with blade lengths of 14 or 19 cm. This makes it slightly shorter than the usual European chef’s knife, which is usually about 20 cm long.
When referring to all Japanese kitchen knives, the term “Santoku” is occasionally used, but this is incorrect because there are several different knife shapes used in Japanese cuisine, with Santoku being just one of them. However, since the term is so general, it is acceptable to use the most common. Gyuto & deba are other common knives used in Japanese cooking.
What benefits and differences between Santoku Knife & European chef’s knife?
A Santoku’s blade is straighter and less curved than a traditional European chef’s knife, which is the fundamental distinction between the two.
Due to the different blade shapes, the handling is slightly different, so the handling requires some practice:
Since the cutting sheet is smaller than that of a European chef’s knife, the Santoku cannot move like a kitchen knife with constant contact with the cutting board. It only permits a cut that goes slightly from back to front and only from top to bottom.
The wide blade offers plenty of space for the fingers of the gripping hand and allows full use of the blade length.
High-quality Santoku knives are very sharp and cut very finely without pressure points when used correctly. Especially with vegetables, this is an advantage, as juicing is avoided. However, as the name suggests, which indicates its versatility, it also cuts meat and fish well, so it can be used in the kitchen as a general tool. The Santoku can handle a lot of cuttings due to the high blade and is even well suited as a useful pallet to scoop trimmings directly into a pot or bowl.
What are the benefits of the often seen KULLENSCHLIFF?
Some Santokus have a number of depressions, called bumps, which are engraved in the blade. Serrated edges can be found mainly in Santokus, but also in European chef’s knives.
The grooves do not interfere with the cutting process, but by creating space between the steel and the cut, the cut does not get stuck to the blade so easily. Very thin slices, such as salmon or ham, should not tear easily.
However, the advantages are controversial: Many users believe that the hollow rim only brings a clear advantage in a few cases and with very specific foods. The question of whether one prefers the Santoku with or without kullen cut is therefore also a question of appearance. The Japanese Tsuchime technique, which covers the entire blade with fine hammers, creates a similar effect to the kullen cut – expensive, but aesthetically a dream!
What should be considered when buying SANTOKUS?
- Consider whether a Santoku or a classic chef’s knife (chef’s knife) is right for your (desired) cutting technique (the “hack” vs. “cradle” movement). Here you can see the difference again.
- Which blade material best meets your expectations? Do you cook every day and need reliable, high-quality ingredients? Then PM steel or carbon steel could be a good fit for you. Do you occasionally cook or are you looking for a more reliable, less expensive option? Then perhaps the easy-care VG5 or VG10 steel is right for you. Here you can see different materials.
- If you are relatively inexperienced with a chef’s knife, a slightly shorter blade can make work easier (16-18 cm).
- Do not buy unknown cheap “Chinese” items. Always ask the manufacturer first. If he is completely unknown or even notorious, you should keep your fingers off his knife. You can also make bad knives out of good steel and then you don’t enjoy them for long. You will also find many testimonials in the Messer forum.
Classic Santokus usually have wooden handles and should occasionally be oiled (eg with linseed oil) and cared for. If that doesn’t work for you, and easy-care plastic handle may be the better option.
- Which grip shape is the best cannot be answered in general. Some people prefer normal handles, others prefer shaped handles. It’s best to test it in a store.
Attention: Never put it in the dishwasher!
- Of course, you do not cut anything extremely coarse with such a fine and high-quality knife: The cutting surface should always be made of soft plastic, better still wood, hard materials such as bone or bone, hardcore or even frozen stuff is under no circumstances a no-go for Sande.
- Since the classic Santoku is usually not rust-free, it must be washed and dried immediately after each use, stainless steel forgives a little more in this regard. However, it should not be put in the dishwasher, as heat and aggressive detergents can damage the steel of the wooden handle and blade.
- It is best not to use a sharpening steel or a sharpening rod (if so, preferably ceramic), but a medium-fine (800-1000) to fine-grained (2000-4000) fine whetstone. Coarse grain is only needed if the knife is very blunt or even toothed, which certainly does not happen with all due care. If you have a very hard knife that is difficult to sharpen, you are welcome to bring it to a professional sharpener once or twice a year. These are accessible in practically all urban areas.
- For storage, knife blocks or magnetic strips are best suited, as the blades of the knife can collide when stored in the drawer.
- Classic Santokus usually have wooden handles and should occasionally be oiled (eg with linseed oil) and cared for. Plastic handles are easier to clean.